Michelle Gilmore: How frustration with traditional design practice lead to a successful business

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Michelle Gilmore founded Neo in 2010 after years of frustration and disappointment with traditional design disciplines and practice. As the Design Director of Neo, she leads a team of world class designers through complex business and organisation problems toward proven interventions.

Dynamic Business had a chat with Gilmore about her behavioural design agency, new exciting projects and her advice to other entrepreneurs.

What is Neo?

Neo is a behavioural design agency that helps leaders to make better, evidence-based decisions.

We design new products, services and systems to move organisations, industries and communities to their desired future states.

We exist to apply our skills to problems big and small, those problems are focused on generating some kind of positive impact.

Tell us about your journey creating Neo?

I started Neo in 2010. I had just turned 25 and couldn’t have been more disappointed in most leaders I’d worked for in my short career as an Industrial Designer. I saw the constant conflict and contradiction between what people said and what they did and didn’t see why things needed to be binary.

Why couldn’t we make money and have a positive impact on the world at the same time? There seemed to be two camps and I didn’t want to choose, and so I decided to make my own. I made a promise to always honour the values that Neo was built upon and do business with integrity. I’ve kept that promise and almost nine years on I’m very proud of everything Neo has achieved and more importantly what we have walked away from.

How does Neo challenge stereotypes?

At the core of our practise is using evidence to make decisions. Too often, decision makers are making calls that affect the people they are meant to serve and the world around them based on narrow views and unvalidated assumptions. This is dangerous and can lead to unintended consequences. So, we push the decision makers we work with to seek evidence from multiple sources and to intentionally consider who they are privileging in their decisions, and thus, who they are therefore disadvantaging.

Have you always been interested in entrepreneurship?

I think I’ve always been intrigued by difference and taking healthy risks. Perhaps that’s something that makes an entrepreneur, I’m not sure. I think that a frustration in status quo is part of it as well; feeling like we could be better, things could change and wanting to get that done.

Why is it important not to put people into labels such as ‘millennials’?

This is an example of a stereotypical label being applied to a ‘group’ of humans and this example suggests that year of birth is the primary driver of behaviour. Year of birth may contribute, but that depends on the context.

The danger in this comes from putting people in static buckets and making assumptions about them based on something like year of birth. We often hear clients talking about technology and millennials as an example – however in some contexts people born in 1990 and 1960 will have the same behaviour. Stereotyping your audience just makes you stupid. It’s overly simple and humans aren’t.

What are the three qualities you think are important for entrepreneurs to have?

My answer to this question changes depending on where I and Neo are at, but right now:

  • Resilience – to enable strength and maturity through inevitable changes and challenges
  • Humility – to be able to take a moment and apply measure and compassion to a situation, self confidence is key, but without humility it won’t sustain you
  • Objectivity – an ability to think outside of one’s personal belief system to allow alternative views and evidence into the decision making process

What are your top 3 tips for those who want to create their own business?

  • There’s no secret. It’s about the constant application of hard work, everyday.
  • Know your values and stick to them.
  • Understand how and why your brain works the way it does and hire people to counterbalance your flaws.

How did you initially get the funding for Neo?

I didn’t, I landed one first (small) project and purchased a few desks and laptops. From there we went from working in my house to a studio and grew from there. I behaved like we were a mature business before we were; I believed it and so others did too. I ensured that I kept every promise I made and delivered results early, to build credibility.

What was the turning point in turning the idea into a fully-fledged business?

I’d worked for many different organisations, both agency and client side and I couldn’t work for disappointing leaders anymore. I had just come from yet another alarming experience of seeing how leadership often works from the inside and decided that I could no longer endorse doing business that way. There really was no other option than to start my own business, I couldn’t keep judging when I wasn’t doing it myself.

Future plans?

Following the success of Neo, we launched Train, a capability building company, that’s about a year old and is going really well.

In the longer term I am interested in how we can insert behavioural design into adjacent sectors and industries, like public policy, for example. I taught a class to Masters students in New York recently, they were learning how to make public policy and I taught them how to test that, using methods created over the years at Neo.

Current news?

We’re working on incredible projects with partners whose value align with ours. Our collaboration with The Australian National University (ANU), for example, sees us applying behavioural design to both internal and external strategy to deliver better education across the country and beyond.

The Red Cross Blood service is using our iterative experimentation technique to improve the donor experience.

Rabobank are working to support and evolve Australia’s agricultural industry and we’re working together to better understand how this might look and how truly partnering with farmers might work.

Then there’s City of Sydney – we can’t quite talk about that one yet, but it’s a fascinating project!

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How to Create Content that Fuels Your Business Growth

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This week on #Smallbizchat LIVE our show featured three guests: How to get growth that lands you on the Inc. 5000 list with Rod Brown, @RoderickLBrown, The Business of Storytelling with Sue Young, @sueyoungmedia, and Profiting From Podcasts: How to leverage the power of podcasts to build your business with Steve Olsher, @steveolsher.

I pulled three of the best questions from each of them to share with you. Every third Wed of the month, Smallbizchat LIVE is broadcast on my SmallBizLady Facebook Page, YouTube channel and on Twitter @SmallBizLady.

Rod Brown is a serial entrepreneur who has co-founded three companies, over the past decade, that were all bootstrapped and all grew from zero to 7 figures. The software company OnceLogix, landed on the Inc. 5000 list in 2016, 2017, and 2018, The Forbes Small Giants list in 2017. Brown is passionate about helping small business owners grow and sustain healthy businesses. For more info: http://oncelogix.com/.

SMALLBIZLADY:  What are the qualifications needed to land on the Inc. 5000 list?

Rod Brown: The Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America honors all sizes of success. If your private company has grown in the past few years, take advantage of this opportunity to receive global and national recognition for your achievements. You owe it to yourself (and to your employees) to apply for the most prestigious award in business.

To qualify for the 2018 Inc. 5000, your company must meet each of the following qualifications:

  • Be privately-owned, based in the United States, independent (not a subsidiary or division of another company)
  • Have started earning revenue by March 31st, 2014
  • Had revenue no less than $100,000 in 2014
  • Had revenue no less than $2,000,000 in 2017
  • Revenue in 2017 exceeds revenue in 2014

SMALLBIZLADY: Is there such a thing as growing your business too quickly? Why or Why not?

Rod Brown: I believe you can grow too quickly.  Rapid growth presents some interesting opportunities. I believe rapid growth will destroy you if;

  1. You do not have proper processes in place to handle a huge, rapid growth.The success is in the process.  Each step of acquiring, on-boarding, communicating, and supporting your customers is extremely important.  Having to do more of those things without having streamlined efficient processes in place could present nightmares.
  2. You do not have the necessary capital to sustain the growth.If you receive an order 100 times the size of your largest order, do you have the capital to fill it? If you can’t deliver on 1 or several large offers it will not look good and could be a costly fail.
  3. You do not have the human capital to maintain and support the growth. You need people to execute.  If your growth outpaces the talent, you will not be able to execute many of the necessary strategies i.e. sales, marketing, or customer service.

SMALLBIZLADY: How can you determine if your company will grow faster selling to current customers or new ones?

Rod Brown: You have to be intentional when selling to your existing customers.  When selling to your existing customer base the key ingredient to your new or additional offer is value.  I believe that there are three ways to grow your business substantially with your existing customer base.  It all starts with adding additional value. Once you’ve added additional value through innovation or solving another problem for your current customers, you can effectively do the following:

  1. Get your customers to pay you more.  Subtle price increases are usually welcomed by your customers, especially if there is corresponding value associated with the additional coin that you’re asking for.
  2. Get your customers to pay you more often.  If your customers pay you twice a year, figure out a way for them to pay you three or four times a year.  More transactions lead to more revenue.
  3. Get your customers to pay you for additional products or services.  When you listen to your current customers, you may hear them talk about problems that they’re having, that you can solve with an add-on to your existing product/service or a completely new product/service.

So, determining if growth will come faster from acquiring new customers or from existing customers depends on your existing customer base.  Simply put, small base, go get new business. Big base, an opportunity to increase value, sell more and often to the base.

Susan Young is the CEO of Get in Front Communications, an 18-year-old company that uses her online Story Magnets program to help entrepreneurs identify, write and deliver their business story in 5 easy steps.  For more info: https://getinfront.lpages.co/storymagnets/.

SMALLBIZLADY: Why is there such a buzz around storytelling these days?

Susan Young: Brands can no longer “hide” behind one-sided stilted marketing messages. Social media demands that people want to connect with “the human factor” with people BEFORE they buy. They want to get to know you and what you stand for. Jargon and mission statements are unacceptable. We need stories because they stir us emotionally and can influence buying decisions. Stories –for thousands of years—have been the emotional connection that bonds human beings. From our earliest childhood memories when we were 3, 4 or 5 years old, we wanted to hear a bedtime story. It may have been Snow White, a Bible passage or a family anecdote, something that takes us on an adventure and lets us use our imaginations.  It’s the same today with business. We must build rapport and connect with people on a human level. Savvy business owners “weave in our personalities” so readers and viewers get to know us as people. We can’t hide behind our brands. As entrepreneurs, the line is blurry because WE are the brand. WE are the message. Give people a chance to get acquainted. Don’t be afraid to show your vulnerability or a mistake you’ve made. By simply talking about an experience at a conference or at your daughter’s soccer game, you are opening up yourself and revealing some “lessons learned” that…when told with humility in just the right way…it will resonate with people who want to learn more about you. Stories allow us to break down barriers.

SMALLBIZLADY: How can a viewer figure out an appropriate story to share?

Susan Young: We can’t focus on our whole lives or the last six months and think of some A-ha moment. Typically, the best stories come from those mundane, routine “moments” that we often overlook. The key is to learn how to find the gem in the treasure chest and write your story in such a way that it’s relatable and memorable.

SMALLBIZLADY: What can business owners who aren’t good writers do to find their stories?

Susan Young: The magic is truly in the wordsmithing, you can’t be effective by “winging it.” Like any story, you must follow the “narrative arc of the story—a beginning, middle and end that has a logical flow to it. For nonwriters, you can simply record yourself telling your story like you would tell a best friend. Record it as an audio file on your phone, transcribe it, and then start editing.

Steve Olsher is known as the world’s foremost reinvention expert. Famous for helping individuals and corporations become exceptionally clear on their WHAT – that is, the ONE thing they were created to do – his practical, no-holds-barred approach to life and business propels his clients towards achieving massive profitability while also cultivating a life of purpose, conviction, and contribution. For more info: www.steveolsher.com.

SMALLBIZLADY: There’s a lot of talk about ‘new media’ and ‘podcasting’ — can you tell us the difference between ‘new media’ and ‘old media’ and why podcasting is a PULL medium? 

Steve Olsher: New Media = Audio, Video, Social Media, Blogging, Mobile. Old Media = TV, Radio, Newspapers, Magazines. Pull media means that people ‘pull’ their desired content from their desired sites when they want it and onto their preferred device.

SMALLBIZLADY: You’ve been quoted as saying that there’s only ONE thing that separates businesses that thrive from those that struggle to generate meaningful revenue. What is it? 

Steve Olsher: The ONE thing that separates businesses that thrive from those that struggle to generate meaningful revenue is visibility. Visibility = Credibility & Authority. Credibility & Authority = More leads, More enrollment conversations, More speaking gigs and More money.

SMALLBIZLADY: Why is it becoming increasingly difficult for business owners to generate the visibility they deserve? 

Steve Olsher: Email open rates and social media activity are down. Cost Per Lead rates are rising. We are in product launch overwhelm.  All of which makes differentiation more difficult.

Do you think you have what it takes to be a guest on #Smallbizchat? Click here to submit your pitch.

Join us every Wednesday from 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter to stay up to date on our upcoming guests.

Here’s how to participate in #SmallBizChat: http://bit.ly/1hZeIlz

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An Interview with crowdspring Naming Creative, Shaunda Lindsay

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Crowdspring’s Naming Creative, shaunda

It’s not easy to name a new company or product.

During the brainstorming process, you may think you’ve found the perfect name only to learn that name already belongs to someone else.

Perhaps you’ve considered turning to a naming consultant, only to learn it costs tens of thousands of dollars – a fee most businesses can’t afford.

All businesses should have access to affordable, high-quality company naming services. (For more on naming, read Why and How to Rename Your Business and 10 Tips for Naming Your Startup or Small Business).

We recently spoke with Shaunda Lindsay, (who goes by the username shaunda on crowdspring), a competitive product and business namer, about her experiences working with crowdspring.

Shaunda is one of over 220,000 crowdspring creatives who help entrepreneurs, startups, small businesses, agencies, and non-profits in the U.S. and in 100+ countries with professional custom logo design, web design, print design, product design, packaging design and naming companies and products.

Shaunda is a six-year naming veteran on crowdspring, and boasts over 1,400 naming projects under her belt. We learned how she approaches the naming process for heart pump products or for sandwich shops (and just about everything in-between).

The images in this interview are the winning names from some of the projects Shaunda won on crowdspring.

1. Please tell us about yourself.

Hi, My name is Shaunda Lindsay. I grew up in Southern California and Oregon. I’m a down to earth person who loves nature.

I’m also a people person – I work for a small real estate agency and I help name businesses in my extra time.

I’m a mother of four and a grandmother of six.

2. How did you become interested in naming?

I became interested in naming because I love words. I wrote poetry and short stories as a child, and even won an award in creative writing for one of my stories in high school. I’ve always put great thought into naming things. My kids, pets, cars.

Names are very important and deserve a lot of deep thinking. They have to really mean something.

3. What led you to start using crowdspring?

In 2012, my husband was looking online to find opportunities to make a little extra cash when he happened onto crowdspring.

My husband said to me, “Shaunda, you like to talk a lot and you’re really good with words. Why don’t you give the naming contests a try?” I’ve been hooked on it ever since!

My names were not great at first. In fact, they really sucked, because I didn’t understand there was a whole process behind naming someone’s business or product. I think I did names for about 4 months before anyone ever picked one of my names for an award.

If it wasn’t for the people who took the time to give feedback to me after entering a name, I would not still be here doing this. It was through their advising me and telling me when I was doing right, or what I wasn’t, that I was able to understand what they really wanted. Success was found through a collective effort between both the client and myself.

Truthfully, without good client feedback, we namers might as well be swimming upstream. A big thanks to all the great client feedback I’ve received.

4. What inspires you?

Nature inspires me… This beautiful world and all the incredibly unique people who live on it.

5. How would you describe your style?

My naming style is eclectic. I love using Latin… Mythological inspiration… Evocative words… and two words mixed into one.

6. What is the naming process like for you? How do you start?

The first thing I have to do is read the brief, over and over. Then, I have to write the main points down because I’m a bit of an airhead… I need to remind myself over and over what it is they are looking for.

I start putting together some word lists that I think may work and I write those down. I try to find out where they are located. I look up different customs and cultural things that pertain to what country they’re from. I use a lot of word association.

Once I put that all together, I work out at least three different styles of names to enter. One thing I’ve learned is, many times, what the client wants will change over the course of the naming contest. After seeing so many great names from so many great namers, they start to see names that may have a better fit than what they first thought.

So I enter different styles of names and hopefully, they will score my name proposals and I’ll start to understand which direction to go in because of the higher scores.

7. What do you do with your free time?

You’ll find me walking around in the summer in a pair of flip-flops, warring with yard insects, getting my hands in the earth, growing my beautiful plants, trees, and vegetables.

I do a lot of camping, 4 wheeling, and hanging out with friends, playing music around fires in the yard.

This small town I live in has an abundance of Metalheads, and we’re always getting together to get things ready for the 4 Yearly Music Festivals all the bands put on.

8. What is your most memorable project on crowdspring?

My most memorable project was a heart pump project, in which my name was chosen for the award. I mean, who gets to help name a heart pump in their lifetime?

I decided to look to nature and find things in nature that act as pumps. I can’t tell you how happy and honored I was to be involved in the process of naming a heart pump.

Only on crowdspring!

I won’t give the name because I signed a confidentiality agreement.

9. What is your favorite part about working on crowdspring?

My very favorite thing about crowdspring is the customer support. These guys and gals work their butts off.

Any time I ask a question they send me a response within a couple of hours. Never fails – they always reply so quick. You can tell they really care about what happens to the creatives. And I’m not messing about, it’s the plain truth.

Another thing I love about Crowdspring is their credibility.

I never worry if they’ll treat me right, or if I’ll be paid or any of the normal things a person worries about when they work online.

In 6 years of doing this, I’ve worked on several other naming sites, and Crowdspring is the only one I’ve stuck with.

Want to work with Shaunda?


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An Interview with crowdspring Naming Creative, Mike Taylor

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Crowdspring’s Naming Creative, mt1895

It’s not easy to name a new company or product.

During the brainstorming process, you may think you’ve found the perfect name only to learn that name already belongs to someone else.

Perhaps you’ve considered turning to a naming consultant, only to learn it costs tens of thousands of dollars – a fee most businesses can’t afford.

All businesses should have access to affordable, high-quality company naming services. (For more on naming, read Why and How to Rename Your Business and 10 Tips for Naming Your Startup or Small Business).

We recently spoke with Mike Taylor, (who goes by the username mt1895 on crowdspring), a competitive professional product and business namer, about his experiences working with crowdspring.

Mike is one of over 220,000 crowdspring creatives who help entrepreneurs, startups, small businesses, agencies, and non-profits in the U.S. and in 100+ countries with professional custom logo design, web design, print design, product design, packaging design and naming companies and products.

We talked with Mike about his experience, how he became interested in naming companies and products, his advice for naming, and his secret to success (trust us, it’s more than drinking lots of coffee).

The images in this interview are the winning names from some of the projects Mike won on crowdspring.

1. Please tell us about yourself.

I am a retired Data Processing System Analyst (I’m not even sure if the phrase “Data Processing” is still used.)

2. How did you become interested in naming?

My wife admires my skill as a (self-proclaimed) wordsmith. She discovered a website that paid for naming products and such. She suggested that as long as I was naming for family, friends & church, I might as well name for a company that was paying for the service.

3. What led you to start using crowdspring?

After being successful at another naming service website, I started to Google others like it, and I found Crowdspring. There were a total of four naming websites beside Crowdspring that I was working with, and it is worth noting that I have since severed my relationship with them all. I now devote my time to Crowdspring alone.

I quickly realized that the Crowdspring process from beginning to end is an easy one, and the projects that enter the platform are ones that I could easily relate to and are fun to work on.

4. What inspires you?

Underdog success stories are a great inspiration.

Now, I am not saying the projects that land on my workstation are underdogs. However, when I win a project and later pull up the previously non-existent website and see the beautiful transformation, it is a very satisfying feeling and it generates a great sense of accomplishment.

5. How would you describe your style?

I don’t have one particular style. I simply read the brief intently, and create what I feel compliments the project or what fits precisely.

I will use ancient words, words in different languages, alliterations, compound words and more; it depends on what style the client prefers.

6. What is the naming process like for you? How do you start?

That, my friend, is my secret sauce – and why I am profiled here. All I will offer is that as a coffee lover, I will drink a cup of coffee as I am intently reading the brief.

7. What do you do with your free time?

My wife and I are avid recreational golfers and students of the Word of God. So, when I am not creating, I am probably on a golf course somewhere in the United States. We haven’t traveled abroad yet, but plan to soon.

If I am not on the golf course, I am probably working in some capacity at the church I fellowship with.

8. What is your most memorable project on crowdspring?

Asabasa Spice Company was a renaming project where the owner was faced with a directive to change their existing name, which had some copyright issues. That project name centered around a great cup of coffee I enjoyed at the time I was reading the project brief.

Just imagine reading a brief where one of the requirements was to find a name that begins with the letter “A.” There you are, taking your first sip of a deeply roasted cup of coffee, thinking about “Asabasa.”

You can’t say “ASABSA” without first saying “Ahhhh,” a word I say to relax or when I am enjoying coffee. Read the ASABASA case study if you want to learn more.

9. What is your favorite part about working on crowdspring?

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE receiving the email that says “You have been picked for an award!” and I have plenty of those.

That, my friend, is my favorite part of working on Crowdspring.

I also like that the award listed for a project is the award given 100%, with no part of it given back to Crowdspring as a fee. Other sites don’t pay 100% of the award to the creative.

I also love the quick responses and replies from the staff. They really make you feel like you are indeed a part of the crowdspring family.

Want to work with Mike?


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New Book Available Now – The Badass Startup: How to Start, Finance & Grow a Successful Business

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AllBusiness.com has just released a comprehensive e-book on starting and growing a business, titled The Badass Startup: How to Start, Finance & Grow a Successful Business. This book offers expert advice on all the important business, legal, and financing issues you will encounter when starting your own company.

The book’s authors are a number of the startup experts from AllBusiness.com, one of the leading websites for entrepreneurs and growing businesses. AllBusiness.com has over one million pages of articles, expert advice, glossaries, forms, “how-to’s,” slideshows, videos, special reports, and more. AllBusiness.com articles have been featured in Forbes, Fortune, Yahoo, BusinessWeek, the Washington Post, Fox Business, MSN, and many other sites.

The book is organized into the following main chapters:

Chapter 1:  Starting a Business
Chapter 2:  Financing the Startup
Chapter 3:  HR Issues for Startups
Chapter 4:  Sales and Marketing for Startups
Chapter 5:  Legal Issues for Startups
Chapter 6:  Inspiration for Entrepreneurs and Startups

The book also has an appendix with a number of useful forms, agreements and checklists, as follows:

  • Small Business Legal Audit Checklist
  • Checklist for Formation of a Corporation
  • Checklist of Different Types of Insurance Available for a Small Business
  • Stock Ledger & Capitalization Summary
  • Offer Letter to Prospective Employee
  • Employment Application for Prospective Employee
  • Contract Checklist
  • Offer to Lease Office Space
  • Sample Press Release—New Product
  • Confidentiality Agreement with Third Party
  • Checklist for Choosing a Domain Name
  • Investor Pitch Deck for a Startup

And there are subchapters that are particularly helpful, including:

  • The Complete 34 Step Guide for Entrepreneurs Starting a Business
  • 12 Tips for Naming Your Startup Business
  • 25 Frequently Asked Questions on Starting a Business
  • Angel Investing: 20 Things Entrepreneurs Should Know
  • A Guide to Venture Capital Financings for Startups
  • 28 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Pitching to Investors
  • How to Create a Great Investor Pitch Deck for Startups Seeking Financing
  • 10 Big Legal Mistakes Made by Startups
  • How Employee Stock Options Work in Startup Companies

The Badass Startup is available now at Amazon.

The post New Book Available Now – The Badass Startup: How to Start, Finance & Grow a Successful Business appeared first on AllBusiness.com

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Lottery Director: Countdown Ticking To Mobile In West Virginia Sports Betting

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Mobile wagering soon will arrive for West Virginia sports betting, according to the state’s lottery director.

John Myers told the state’s lottery commission Thursday that two casinos owned by Delaware North soon will offer mobile. Both Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island will launch retail and mobile simultaneously, according to Myers.

“We’ve completed testing Delaware North, which includes both Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island casinos on Nov. 19. Both of those locations will have the mobile app when they begin receiving wagers,” Myers said, according to WV News.

West Virginia sports betting landscape today

West Virginia sports betting launched just before the start of football season in September. Hollywood Casino came out of the gate first, followed soon after by FanDuel Sportsbook at the Greenbrier.

Those two casinos held the market to themselves for more than two months before Mountaineer Casino jumped in Nov. 21. The addition of Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island would fill out the five sports betting licenses available for West Virginia sports betting. Casinos pay a $100,000 license fee to offer legal sports betting.

Hollywood, the Greenbrier, and Mountaineer do not offer mobile sports betting. Myers told the commission Thursday that none of the three has completed required mobile testing by the state.

Revenue limited by slow rollout in West Virginia

With only two open sportsbooks through the first two-thirds of NFL and college football, revenue returns appear paltry thus far. Through the initial two weeks of November, retail-only West Virginia sports betting provided the following returns:

  • Handle: $22,406,637
  • Revenue: $2,732,541
  • Taxes: $273,254

At that pace, West Virginia sports betting would fall far short of the $5.5 million in tax revenue forecasted before launch. The current trend would produce less than a quarter of the expected amount.

Mobile should change the game quickly in WV

That revenue forecast should brighten considerably when the Delaware North properties come online. Miomni will power the sportsbooks at both casinos.

New Jersey‘s sports betting rollout shows the template for mobile’s effect. It took only a couple of months for mobile handle to eclipse retail. In October, $175 million of New Jersey sports betting happened via online/mobile. That accounts for roughly two-thirds of all wagers taken that month in the Garden State.

Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island originally targeted October for launch, but the plan to start retail and mobile simultaneously slowed rollout.

“We’re working toward opening the sportsbooks as efficiently as possible while ensuring we deliver the customer experience that our patrons deserve,” said Luisa Woods, Delaware North vice president of marketing for gaming, last month.

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MGM Resorts CEO ‘Offended By The Concept’ Of Integrity Fees, Lauds Data Deals

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NEW YORK — MGM Resorts is “offended by the concept” of an integrity fee being included in state sports betting regulations as proposed by the major sports leagues, according to chief executive Jim Murren.

Speaking in New York, Murren said proposals for a mandated percentage of turnover to go to the leagues was “disturbing to us.”

“I like the word integrity, but I believe we are paying for that already, in the relationships we have, the money we are paying for data and the money we are paying for sponsorship.”

MGM doing deals with leagues already

The comments came on the same day MGM announced a data and league sponsorship with the MLB that will see MGM become the MLB’s first-ever gaming partner.

This deal means that MGM now has sponsorship and data deals with three of the four major US sports leagues.

“We have evaluated — the MLB deal is a good example — we sat down for over a year with the MLB and evaluated what kind of deal we would bring to the table.”

He said that MGM, which has partnered with European online giant GVC Interactive, was more than willing to pay for official data as part of his businesses attempt to add a differentiator to its sports-betting product.

“That is particularly because in-play data will be so vital,” he added. “Latency will be important.”

You’ve got to be in it to win it

Murren was keen to emphasize how MGM intended to use sports betting as a lever to further engage with its current database of 31 million customers.

“The emphasis is on the interactive business and how that will enhance our land-based business,” he said. “That’s the bigger picture for us, something the traditional sports betting operator doesn’t have.”

Murren was keen to emphasize that MGM had been a supporter of the push to overturn PASPA and to further regulated online gambling within the US, suggesting it was very much in favor of the opportunities brought by the utilization of technology.

“We had been hoping for the PASPA ruling for a number of years. We were like a horse waiting at the gate,” he said. “We’re trying to create a holistic experience: We see sports betting as (the) portal to a total interactive experience including social, poker, casino gaming and sports.”

Murren was speaking at the ICE Sports Betting USA Conference where the day before he spoke, Dan Spillane, at the NBA, has reiterated the call for an integrity or data fee of 0.25 percent of handle to be included within state legislation.

More on official data

Noting the deal also announced this week between the NBA and Sportradar and Genius Sports to distribute official NBA data to US operators, Spillane said that such deals were not a “substitute” for a mandated data fee.

“We still think as a parallel track we need (integrity) in legislation,” said Spillane.

“We’re still active in legislative discussion. We have a package of things that we think need to be included in regulated gaming legislation. We’ll be very active in the new year. And we’re working with MLB and PGA Tour.”

However, there were cautionary words from one of the NBA’s partners in its US distribution deal regarding the potential for accumulating costs being loaded onto the sports betting bandwagon.

Matteo Monteverdi, president of Sportradar US, said it was important that the “economic and business case” was in place.

“If we overload the costs of doing business and create a significant burden to enter the market, either through licensing fees, state taxes, federal taxes, regulatory and compliance costs and other requirements and obligations, we might risk killing the business and giving the advantage to illegal operators,” he said.

“It’s a delicate balance. It’s a process and the entire industry including the leagues, legislators, regulators and the operators need to work together.”

Is the tipping point for sports betting costs?

Here’s how the sports betting costs stack up:

  • Licensing fees
  • State taxes
  • Federal taxes
  • Regulatory and compliance costs
  • Date integrity/royalty fee?

The nonexclusive deal between the NBA and Sportradar and its rival Genius Sports would appear to point to a future of cooperation between the sport and the betting operators with the supply of in-game data central to the proposition.

But speaking on another panel at the New York event, Sharon Otterman, chief marketing officer for William Hill US, pointed to the operators’ argument that with licensed operators necessarily operating on slim margins, it was important that there should be “other options” when it comes to the use of data.

“We think there is value in official league data but it is important there are other options,” she said. “There is very little margin in sports betting. The more we take out of that because there is pricing pressure, then the consumer gets hurt. It’s competitive right now.”

The drive for a federal solution

Similarly tacking the twin-track approach of commercially exploiting the betting operators’ desire for data while also arguing for an integrity fee is the PGA Tour. It recently announced a deal with IMG Arena to further exploit game data for betting purposes. But Andy Levinson, senior vice president for tournament administration at the PGA Tour, insisted this week that the PGA was still hoping for a federal integrity solution.

“We think the best solution for protecting the integrity is a central repository of information with all operators obliged to provide bettor-level information. We want complete transparency and a holistic view.”

The post MGM Resorts CEO ‘Offended By The Concept’ Of Integrity Fees, Lauds Data Deals appeared first on Legal Sports Report.

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Bet365’s New York Sports Betting Deal Signals Greater Ambitions For US Regulated Market

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The deal between European online betting and gaming powerhouse bet365 and New York casino proprietor Empire Resorts has the significance that might resonate beyond state borders.

The “strategic alliance,” announced Nov. 14, to build a bet365-branded online and land-based sportsbook at the Resorts World Catskills marks a departure for the Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire-based firm.

The 20-year agreement, which will come into force if New York issues regulations on sports betting, is more than just a 50/50 distribution deal. Under its terms, bet365 will also acquire up to $50 million of Empire Resorts shares at a price of $20 a share, representing 5 percent of the company. This understandably put a rocket under Empire’s share, which rose 50 percent on the week:


Empire Resorts share price — Oct. 18, 2018, to Nov. 15, 2018

What does the bet365 deal mean?

Such an equity stake is unusual for privately held bet365, which remains wholly in the hands of the founding Coates family and its close associates. It also signals a step-change in the UK market leader’s US ambitions compared to the skin arrangement with Hard Rock in New Jersey.

Partly the deal with Empire Resorts is an acknowledgment that, as it stands, New York licenses might be scarce. With the legislation as proposed, there could be potentially only one license for each of the four casinos currently in operation within the state.

With the other three having also chosen partners — DraftKings Sportsbook for Del Lago, FanDuel Sportsbook with Tioga Downs and Rush Street/Sugarhouse with Rivers — it left Empire as the last game in town.

If you can make it there

The nature of the arrangement in New York suggests bet365 sees more scope and potential there compared with New Jersey, said Simon French, longtime gaming and leisure analyst in the UK and also now a partner at advisory and consultancy Bixteth Partners.

“This is a bigger deal in New York than what they have in New Jersey with Hard Rock, where it is a simple branding deal,” he said.

“New Jersey is a crowded market and you have to question how many of them are going to be profitable there. Whereas New York, it is likely to be the biggest state that will open up for a while and even though it isn’t up-and-running right now, it means that getting in now will give bet365 the opportunity to shape the market.”

Lee Richardson, a consultant with Gaming Economics, agrees the arrangement with Empire Resorts is a “slow burn deal.”

Nevertheless, the status of bet365 in its home country and further afield means that any move the company makes is inherent of interest, he added. “It is such a goliath in the UK, Europe and Asia, of course.”

The revenue backdrop

According to the last annual results available from 2017 through Companies House in the UK, bet365 made a total of £2.15bn ($2.75 billion) in gaming turnover and a pre-tax profit of £525m ($671 million.)

Sources close to the company previously indicated the geographic revenue split is roughly one-third UK, a third from the rest of Europe with the last third coming from Asia-Pacific and elsewhere.

One analyst who preferred to remain anonymous pointed out that the UK business had done “exceptionally well” throughout the past decade, adding that it been “helped” by the Asian liquidity.

Talking of the Empire move, he added it was “very interesting, particularly given bet365’s activity in Asia … all it takes is one state to have an issue with that.”

Opaque areas could be an issue

When it comes to regulated sports betting and gaming, the Asian markets remain a gray area — as does, apparently, the attitude of US state regulators toward that type of activity on the part of their licensees.

Speaking on a panel at G2E in Las Vegas in October, Jay McDaniel, deputy director at the Mississippi Gaming Commission, indicated the thinking of state regulators is nuanced and evolving.

“We wouldn’t license anyone who has broken the law,” McDaniel said. “Is it a gray market or is it truly illegal? … We have to stay on top of that. If they don’t have licenses where they operate, why?”

George Rover, managing partner at Princeton Global Strategies and previously deputy director at the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) added on the same panel that US state regulators “can’t be the policeman of the world.”

The Asian connection to the Empire deal

Asia looms large with the Empire Resorts deal for other reasons. While bet365’s US subsidiary Hillside New York is putting in $50 million to buy shares in Empire, it was also announced that Empire’s largest shareholder Kien Huat Realty III had also committed itself to purchase $126 million in convertible preference shares at the same strike price of $20 a share.

Kien Huat Realty is the investment vehicle of the Lim family, the founders of Asian gaming giant Genting of which it still controls 39 percent. As well as owning casino interests in Malaysia, Singapore and the UK, Genting is also set to expand the Resorts World franchise to Nevada in 2020.

French noted that the stake in Empire Resorts might be the opening gambit in the move toward bet365 becoming a “global, omnichannel operator.”

“Could this be the start of something huge?” French said. “The move is particularly interesting given bet365’s reportedly huge Asian business and Genting’s position in Asia, but also soon in Nevada. It is quite possible we might see bet365-branded sportsbooks in Genting casinos. This could be a big, strategic play.”

The post Bet365’s New York Sports Betting Deal Signals Greater Ambitions For US Regulated Market appeared first on Legal Sports Report.

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DraftKings Sportsbook: Coming Soon To A State Near You?

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If you’re in New Jersey, you have access to the new DraftKings Sportsbook. Here’s a rundown of where you can find DraftKings for sports betting now and in the future.

DraftKings Sportsbook online

The well-dressed DraftKings NJ sports betting platform operates under the license of Resorts Atlantic City, but it’s available across web and mobile channels statewide. As long as you’re in the state, you can wager.

The product is perhaps more polished and market-ready than we expected from DraftKings. The company was, after all, solely a daily fantasy sports outfit until May of 2018.

It was the first online sportsbook in the state and currently the biggest in terms of revenue.

Land-based DraftKings Sportsbooks

There are currently two land-based DraftKings Sportsbooks in the US:

  • DraftKings Sportsbook at Resorts, in New Jersey
  • DraftKings Sportsbook at Scarlet Pearl Resort in Mississippi.

States that may have DraftKings Sportsbooks in the future

Potential for growth is capped in the short term, however. While FanDuel has racked up market-access partnerships throughout the country, DraftKings is still pretty lean on that front.

Here’s the list of states in which you might see the next DraftKings Sportsbook pop up, and it’s not a very long one:

New York

Apart from NJ, New York is the only other state in which DraftKings has a confirmed point of entry. It announced a partnership with Del Lago in July 2018 that covers both retail and online/mobile operations. If that materializes, Del Lago could end up christening the first on-property, DraftKings-branded sportsbook in the country.

That’s all well and good, except NY sports betting is not yet in place. Voters approved the activity for four commercial casinos in 2013, but regulators have lagged on implementation. What’s more: that existing law excludes online/mobile wagering, so a new one likely will be required before the DraftKings Sportsbook app launches in NY.

Recent rumblings create some cause for optimism on the retail side, but the timeline for NY sports betting is still very much up in the air.


Pennsylvania is a little closer to becoming an online sports betting state than its neighbor.

Full legalization came late last year, and regulators have just started to put the wheels into motion for launch. Temporary regulations are being tweaked, and the window is now open for applications. They cost $10 million apiece. The first sportsbooks have started to open.

DraftKings figures to be a candidate to partner with one of the PA casinos, but it would have limited ability to fully leverage its brand. State regulations permit each casino to deploy just a single online/mobile platform displaying its own logo. Each may only use one sports betting partner.

About half of the 13 prospective licensees are off the board, it appears:

  • SugarHouse/Rivers: Owned by Rush Street, which has a partnership with Kambi. That’s DraftKings’ supplier, too, but there’s no indication it is part of the deal.
  • Parx: Recently announced that it will use GAN to power its operations.
  • Presque Isle/Lady Luck: Both will soon be operated by Churchill Downs, which has established a partnership with SBTech.
  • Harrah’s: Parent company Caesars has an NJ partnership with Scientific Games that figures to carry across the border.

It’s also impossible to pin down a timeline for the launch of online PA sports betting, but it’s coming sometime in 2019.

West Virginia

The launch of WV sports betting happened in 2018. The West Virginia Lottery has posted temporary regulations for public comment and issued the first interim permits over the last couple weeks. Several sportsbooks have already opened as of the fall of 2018.

Regulators in WV have crafted a framework that’s more hospitable to DraftKings and other mobile-first operators.

Each of the state’s five casinos is permitted to offer up to three online/mobile platforms, making room for as many as 15 individual brands in the marketplace. DraftKings doesn’t have a confirmed WV alliance, but it likely will pursue opportunities.

FanDuel has the opposite problem. It was ahead of the game, announcing a partnership with The Greenbrier way back in June. FanDuel Sportsbook is eventually going to offer both retail and online/mobile wagering, but it doesn’t have an app ready to go yet. DraftKings has the app, but it’s lacking the dance partner.


This one could be interesting, since Nevada is one of the few states in which daily fantasy sports is explicitly prohibited as a skill game. DraftKings is a sports betting company now, though, an activity that is very much legal and thriving in the Silver State.

It has generally seemed unlikely that DraftKings would pursue Nevada sports betting, but nothing is a given anymore. The company recently announced plans to open an office in Las Vegas, which at least draws a raise of the eyebrow. DraftKings wouldn’t pay for a license to offer DFS as a “gambling” game, but might it do so in the world of widespread sports betting?

It’s also worth noting that CG Technologies is being pushed out of the Nevada market amid a string of gaming violations. Either it or the many sportsbooks it serves will need to find a replacement supplier, and a shiny new option has just become available courtesy of DraftKings.

File that last bit of evidence in the circumstantial folder.

Other candidates

Any state with legal sports betting should be considered a candidate for a DraftKings Sportsbook, really. In this post-PASPA world, company executives have made no secrets about their ambitions.

Rhode Island and Delaware have both legalized sports betting, too. Neither allows mobile betting, however, and neither even has provisions for additional partnerships. The industries in both are administered by state-chosen suppliers under the lottery’s direction.

It looks like the states broken down above represent the complete list of candidates for DraftKings Sportsbook in the short term, then. Despite its early lead, it’s even possible that it could still be stuck in only NJ and Mississippi when the calendar ticks over.

At least they have Barkley.

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4 Steps to Accepting and Acting on Negative Feedback

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All feedback is good, but not all feedback is positive. We’re often subject to negative feedback at work for different scenarios such as missing a performance target set by the organization or developing a high-end product idea that flopped after testing.

Regardless of the reason, accepting negative feedback can be difficult—especially if there is pressure across the board to perform in the face of perpetual downsizing, outsourcing, or consolidation.

It can be even harder if you’re just starting out. It’s easy to take the feedback as a personal affront. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Performance feedback isn’t meant to insult or demean, it’s an attempt to rehabilitate.

Think about it, why would your supervisor take the time to talk it out if they’d already given up on you? Because motivating a team also means holding team members accountable for what’s not working. Receiving feedback is a chance to improve and better support those around us.

So next time you’re called into the boss’ office for feedback, consider these four steps below:

1. Detach – Remember that it’s not personal

The first step is to detach, emotionally that is. Before the conversation starts, remind yourself that this feedback is based on job performance and factors that include objective data. It has nothing to do with how nice you are, how fun you are around the office, or how you live your life away from work.

Your supervisor is trying to do their job as well as you’ve been trying to do yours. They feel that talking to you now is vital for your own well-being as a team member and for the team as a whole. If there’s something you’re doing that needs to be better, they have a responsibility to everyone on the team to tell you—and early enough so you can address it and make the end result better for everyone.

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” – Elon Musk

2. Information – Focus on the data

Your supervisor’s description of your performance should be specific and actionable, so listen first and take careful notes as you pick up on themes. The earlier you try to respond, the more likely you will appear defensive and only out to present your ‘side’.

If you focus on listening and taking down what observations they have, you are more likely to capture what needs improvement. If you’re focused on improving those things, you’ll ultimately grow and be successful in supporting the organization and remaining an asset to those around you.

3. Vision – Create an image of what improvement looks like

The conversation is over. You’ve left the office and are back in your workspace. Review your notes and think about what your supervisor said. It’s time to work on the counter-image—what does improvement look like? This is an exercise in setting and realizing a vision.

Imagine what it looks like for the opposite of the feedback to be true. Don’t think about the steps to get there yet. Focus on ‘winning’ the situation, accounting for each observation your supervisor provided and experiencing success. Develop a narrative that you can see the same way you can watch a television series play out.

Got the image? Now plan your steps, in reverse from the vision you have to the moment you find yourself in now. You must have a vision of where you’ll end up before you can plan the steps to get there, otherwise you’ll set out on a path that leads nowhere—and therefore never ends.

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein

4. Empathize – Put yourself in the shoes of those around you

This is the most important step. Your supervisor felt it was the best thing for you and the team to tell you where you fell short and afford you a golden opportunity to do better. The truth is the conversation was likely as difficult for them as it was for you. Having to tell a teammate they’re not meeting standards can eat away at a manager, and is challenging because they must now consider what happens if you’re unable to improve.

You both have the organization’s best interest in mind. Feel what it’s like from their side, what it takes to manage the team and support everyone while meeting performance milestones set by senior leadership. Then think about the team around you.

What are they hoping to see from you? What can you do to help them focus elsewhere in the organization where there’s more work to be done? If you can push the envelope of improvement and get your team moving forward, it allows others to worry about the bigger problems ahead that will take everyone’s effort to solve.

Feedback is a tool for improvement, for yourself and those around you. If you’re receptive, you’ll engender trust and remain as an asset to the organization. That goes for managers, too.

Feedback is a two-way street, so if you’re that supervisor, remember to solicit feedback from your employees on a regular basis and rely on these same four steps to improve and look positively to the future.

How do you deal with handling negative feedback? Let us know your tips for others!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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